Hydro utilities raising rates to cover cost of their legal misadventure

Hydro utilities raising rates to cover cost of their legal misadventure

At this rate, it will be a neck-and-neck race as to which industry gets worse reviews: Ontario’s electricity providers or telemarketers, although Torontonians have fewer options to deal with the former than they do with the latter. The Ontario Energy Board just made a decision that will allow local electrical utilities to charge consumers more in order to cover an expensive case they lost in the Supreme Court of Canada. The energy providers can now boost the interest rates on late bill payments by up to 60 per cent in order to get $18 million from consumers.

According to the Toronto Star:

“It’s a scam,” Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak shot at energy minister Brad Duguid in the Legislature’s daily question period, saying the Liberals have turned the energy board into “another McGuinty tax collection agency…Why is it when Ontario families even win in the courts you still make them pay the price of illegal activity?”

The typical residential customer will see an extra 20 to 30 cents a month on their electricity bills for two years.

So, to catch up: 1) Utility overcharges customers. 2) Because they say it would be impossible to refund customers directly, they instead pay into a fund for low-income consumers. (Next time we’re late on a credit card bill we’ll try telling Visa “it’s impossible” to find them.) 3) To make up the revenue they lost because they broke the law, utilities raise prices.

It’s not exactly the story that the Liberal government needs on top of all their other hydro-related headaches. We’re not too sympathetic, though—the government doesn’t get to say “there oughta be a law against that,” no matter how drunk they try to get the electorate.

• Opposition parties calls Ontario Energy Board ruling a ‘scam’ [Toronto Star]
Hydro rate hike approved to cover fines, court costs [CP24]